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ITIL® Configuration Management – Putting the Pieces of the IT Jigsaw Together

Configuration Management lies at the very heart of ITIL® – it allows a simple IT ‘technology’ provider to mature into a reliable and cost-effective ‘service’ provider, by bringing together all of an organization’s diverse IT components into one central database.

 

And whilst there are some significant challenges associated with implementing a successful Configuration Management solution (such as establishing a suitable starting point and scope), most modern IT infrastructures are simply too large or complex to be managed by individuals or with spreadsheets and paper based systems alone.

ITIL Best Practice

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library® (ITIL) is a globally recognized set of IT Service Management best practices that employs a practical, common sense approach to identifying, planning, delivering and supporting IT services to the business. It is made up of five main stages: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement.

Configuration Management

Configuration Management falls under the Service Transition stage.  Service Transition focuses on both the building and deployment of IT services and ensures that any changes to IT services or processes are conducted in a coordinated manner. The main goal of Configuration Management is to maintain up-to-date information about Configuration Items (CIs) and the relationships they require to deliver an effective IT service.

What is a CI?

In ITIL terminology, a CI is any component that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service. CIs can differ greatly in size, type, and complexity and typically include (end to end) IT services, hardware, software, buildings, people and even formal documentation such as IT processes, contracts, and Service Level Agreements.

Key Configuration Management Processes

The Configuration Manager is responsible for the implementation and ongoing maintenance of the Configuration Management Database (CMDB), which details all of the CIs necessary for the provision and management of IT services. The CMDB records comprehensive information about the maintenance, movement and problems associated with each CI throughout its entire lifecycle. The Configuration Manager works closely with other ITIL departments including:

  • Incident Management and Problem Management – by analyzing trends and providing key diagnostic data.
  • Change Management – by helping to identify the impact of proposed changes to CIs.
  • Availability Management – by assisting with the detection of points of failure.
  • Financial Management – by recording key financial information that can be tracked and charged to the appropriate cost centers.

The ITIL Configuration Management process incorporates the following activities:

  • Management and planning – defining the scope of Configuration Management and creating the Configuration Management Plan
  • CMDB implementation – implementing and maintaining a centralized Configuration Management Database as defined in the Configuration Management Plan
  • CI Identification – identifying all CIs and ensuring their subsequent registration within the CMDB
  • CI Control – managing and controlling all CIs (by specifying who is authorized to make changes to them)
  • CI Status Recording – recording the current status of all CIs and maintaining this information within the CMDB
  • CI Verification – performing rigorous reviews and regular audits to make sure that the data contained within the CMDB is accurate

The Benefits of Implementing ITIL Configuration Management

Implementing ITIL-aligned Configuration Management optimizes the performance of Service Assets, which ultimately results in improved service performance and better cost management. It also mitigates the risks associated with poorly managed assets such as service outages or failed audits.

In summary, Configuration Management enables:

  • Better planning of IT Changes and Releases to meet the demands of the business
  • Improved Incident and Problem resolution
  • Improved impact analysis of Changes and Releases
  • Decreased risk
  • Improved IT security
  • Increased visibility of IT Service Level Performance
  • Greater compliance to standards, legal and regulatory requirements
  • Better management of license agreements
  • Enhanced standardization of infrastructure
  • Clearer identification of IT service costs
  • Improved identification and redeployment of underused CIs
  • Increased cost efficiency
  • Increased customer satisfaction

About this author:

Angel Prusinowski

Angel is a leading ITIL® instructor at Ashford Global IT.

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